A lot of college football coaches talk about building a culture, recruiting players that are a fit both athletically and on a personal level with themselves, their future coaching staff as well as the player’s own personal family.
Let’s face it, your football team is an extension to one’s family.
Often when coaches are hired as the head coach, athletic directors search for that perfect fit, someone who will be a part of the community, someone who relates to their fans and most importantly to their players.
For coaches it can be slightly different but the same in a lot of ways.
Each college coach has what they can claim as their dream job.
That perfect situation, perhaps the teams they grew up cheering for, or where they attended college.
Saturday’s SEC West matchup between LSU and Ole Miss is the perfect example of this.
Ed Orgeron, proven as a top assistant coach and one of the best recruiters in the country, got his first opportunity to be a head coach at Ole Miss.
Orgeron spent three years as the Rebels head coach, the talent level upon his arrival was below anything he had ever been a part of before.
One of his first missions as the new head coach was to build a staff, find coaches he could trust and rely on to help him bring the best athletes to Oxford Mississippi, a place not known to be a very easy place to recruit to.
A young high school coach in Memphis Tennessee and a Mississippi native made a trip to reach out to the new Ole Miss head coach, that young coach is current Ole Miss Head Football Coach Hugh Freeze.
Orgeron had been named the head coach at Ole Miss, and was preparing with his USC team to win a national championship at the Orange Bowl when he first met Freeze.
“He walked up to me and introduced himself on the sidelines of the Orange Bowl,” Orgeron remembers. “That impressed me that he had the courage to approach me, to tell me that he really wanted to be a part of my staff at Ole Miss.”
Orgeron ended up hiring Freeze as an off the field coach, the director of football operations and became very close to the young successful coach.
Tiger Blitz.com spoke to Orgeron one on one about his relationship with Freeze.
“He was my right-hand man at Ole Miss,” Orgeron said. “I knew then how dedicated he was, how hard he worked and how eager he was to learn all the in’s and outs of recruiting that he would be a head coach someday. He played a big part in making Ole Miss better athletically.”
Orgeron admits that he learned a lot during his first head coaching job, that he has matured and learned from that experience.
“Each job I have ever had, I have learned how to learn from those experiences,” Orgeron has said on numerous occasions. “Each job I have had, each situation has taught me how to be a better coach and a better leader. I have learned how to delegate better, use each of my coach’s strengths to their fullest potential.”
Freeze began his D1 Head Coaching experience at Arkansas State, where he won the Sun Belt Conference Championship in his first season going 10-2 and then got the opportunity of earning his dream job at Ole Miss.
Freeze told this writer, five years ago why Ole Miss was his dream job.
“Growing up in the state of Mississippi you either root for Ole Miss or Mississippi State,” Freeze said in a previous interview. “I ended up going to Southern Mississippi to school, but with my hometown of Senatobia being only 45 minutes to Oxford, I spent a lot of time going to Ole Miss games. I have always wanted to coach in the SEC and I have always wanted to be the head coach at Ole Miss.”
Since taking over the Rebel Football Program Freeze has had great success. His teams have gotten better each season going 7-6 his first year, 8-5 his second season, 9-4 his third and 10-3 a year ago.
Both Freeze and Orgeron has a lot of mutual respect for each other.
“I am so indebted to Coach Orgeron. I have great respect for him and everything that he has meant to my career,” Freeze said in his press conference earlier this week. “He gave me an opportunity just to come here and be in an off the field position, and to learn from him in recruiting and the things that I watched him do and how persistent, and how he did his things with great passion. I learned a lot from him and I am very indebted for the opportunity and the time I had and the opportunities he gave me. I really don’t know my career does what it does without the opportunity that he gave me.”
Orgeron feels the same way about Freeze.
“I’m really proud for him and what he has accomplished at Ole Miss,” Orgeron said. “He’s a perfect fit for that program.”
There are a lot of commonalities between the two’s careers.
Orgeron, a native of Louisiana, played at LSU one season before transferring to Northwestern State University where he played three years.
No one could be any prouder to represent his home state of Louisiana as the Head Coach at LSU even if it’s just on an interim basis.
“It’s an honor for me to be the Head Coach at LSU,” Orgeron told the media when it was announced that he was replacing the fired Les Miles after this year’s Auburn game. “I have always dreamed of this day, I’m a Tiger through and through, and nothing could make me any happier than to be the head coach of this team.”
Orgeron has brought an excitement and energy back to this program, its players, its fan base and the entire state of Louisiana.
There were those who didn’t think Freeze was ready to take over the Ole Miss program after just one year of success at Arkansas State. Those doubters have been silenced.
Now the real question is, will Orgeron get the chance to live out his lifetime dream?
There is no doubt that Orgeron is the perfect fit for LSU, now it’s up to the administration, the fan base and the state to rally around one of its own.
This LSU team has the athletes, and it appears to have the right man to lead this team.
The last two games results speak for themselves.
Sometimes taking a risk and not making the sexiest hire pays off, it did at Ole Miss. If given the chance, it could here in Baton Rouge as well.James Bryant covered Ed Orgeron and Hugh Freeze at Ole Miss and later, Orgeron at Tennessee and Freeze at Arkansas State.